Relations between Switzerland and Kazakhstan are very good and are expected to develop further. Kazakhstan is a member of the Swiss voting group in the Bretton Woods institutions. The country is an important partner in various bilateral and multilateral initiatives concerning water diplomacy. In recent years, cooperation has been stepped up in several sectors.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Kazakhstan
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Political consultations have been held regularly with Kazakhstan since 2005 and have included human rights issues since 2016. Kazakhstan belongs to the Swiss voting constituencies at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and at the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
In 2021, an IMF technical assistance development centre opened in Almaty. It is co-financed by Switzerland. With the 'Blue Peace Central Asia' initiative, Switzerland promotes regional water cooperation among the five Central Asian countries and supports various initiatives in transboundary water management.
Of the five Central Asian republics, Kazakhstan is Switzerland's most important trading partner. Economic relations between the two countries have intensified and there is significant potential for further growth. With total bilateral trade of almost USD 1.3 billion, Switzerland is Kazakhstan's 13th biggest trading partner according to Kazakhstan’s 2021 statistics. According to statistics from Kazakhstan's national bank, Switzerland is the country's third biggest foreign investor (after the Netherlands and the United States). There are around 40 Swiss companies registered in Kazakhstan.
The joint economic commission has held regular meetings since 1999.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers from Kazakhstan can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships from the State Secretariat for Education Research and Innovation (SERI).
Development cooperation, humanitarian aid and combating corruption
According to the International Cooperation Strategy 2021–2024, the Swiss Guidelines on Water 2022–2025 and the Swiss Cooperation Programme for Central Asia 2022–2025, Switzerland is supporting Kazakhstan and the other Central Asian states in their efforts to improve water resource management and reduce tensions between different users.
Under its policy for the restitution of illicitly obtained assets, Switzerland has returned assets (approx. USD 163 million) to the Kazakh people since 2005.
Swiss nationals in Kazakhstan
According to statistics on the Swiss abroad, there were 35 Swiss nationals living in Kazakhstan at the end of 2022.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland recognised the independent Republic of Kazakhstan on 23 December 1991. The Swiss embassy in Moscow was initially responsible for political and diplomatic relations. In 1994 a consulate was opened in Almaty, the capital of Kazakhstan at the time, and this was upgraded to a consulate general in 1998.
Switzerland opened an embassy in the capital of Astana in March 2009, after which the consulate general in Almaty was converted to an honorary consulate.